With more than 350 golf courses from the coast to the mountains, South Carolina is the perfect destination for a golf road trip. With a little planning, you can tee off on luxurious Kiawah Island in the morning and round out the 18th hole in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains all in the same day. Here's how.
A short 21 miles outside of historic downtown Charleston,Kiawah Island Golf Resort is nestled on 10,000 acres of tidal marsh and maritime forest with five championship golf courses, premier restaurants, shopping, gorgeous beaches, a hotel, spa and so much more. The island's world-famous Ocean Course is your first destination, and you'll want to get an early start to this action-packed day - so be sure to make an early morning tee time so you won't miss a thing.
Start with breakfast in the clubhouse of The Ocean Course at The Ryder Cup Bar, where you can enjoy an oceanside breakfast starting at 7:30 a.m. with an upscale twist on the usual suspects - parfaits, omelets, egg sandwiches, South Carolina-made Adluh grits and oatmeal - or something a little more adventurous like English baked beans, huevos rancheros or Cinnamon Toast Crunch-encrusted French toast. If you're pressed for time, they have coffee, cappuccinos and plenty of breakfast options that are great on the go.
After fueling up, it's time to hit the links! Host of the 2012 PGA Championship, and named by Golf Digest as "America's Toughest Course" and the fourth best overall public course in the United States, The Ocean Course boasts the most seaside holes of any golf course in the Northern Hemisphere and is also designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. All tee times at The Ocean Course come with a complimentary caddy (tips are encouraged), and walking either nine or 18 holes on this course is a treat in itself.
If time permits after playing a round of nine or 18 on The Ocean Course, head over to the island's Sanctuary Spa, a premier facility within Kiawah Island Golf Resort and winner of the Forbes Five Star Award. This luxury spa offers a complete menu of services to rejuvenate guests, including golf-focused treatments like the Kiawah Golf Ball Massage, the Foot Joy foot treatment and the Athletic Recovery Massage.
Summerville, South Carolina, is right on the way from Kiawah to the Upstate, making it the perfect place to stop for lunch and a little light shopping on your way to play golf in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This historic town is home to hundreds of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it's dotted by plenty of quaint local eateries and charming shops.
If authentic South Carolina barbecue is what you crave, try Baker's Cottage Kitchen. This local establishment offers outdoor dining and serves up multi award-winning barbecue and homemade sauces with all the traditional fixin's, including tomato pie,which is a must if you've never tried it before.
For traditional Southern fare, check out Eva's on Main, a local "meat and three" restaurant with a cult-like following. No matter what day you visit Eva's, you're guaranteed to get a down-home taste of the Lowcountry you won't find anywhere else.
After lunch, check out People, Places & Quilts, a 6,000-square-foot quilting and fabric store in the heart of downtown Summerville. Even if you aren't a quilter, this iconic Summerville shop will take you back in time, so it's definitely worth a quick peek inside.
If antiquing is your thing, there are dozens of shops around town that are designated as part of the South Carolina Antique Trail. Relic Revival on West 2nd St. specializes in "lovely and affordable" furniture, kitchenware, glass and barware, so you're sure to find something special to take home here. Or, if you're looking for one-of-a-kind gifts, vintage posters, unique apparel or other assorted Southern goodies, The Savvy Rose boutique has it all. With so many shops to choose from downtown, you may just have to make a second trip to Summerville.
Make your way Upstate via I-26 to River Falls Plantation in Duncan, South Carolina, featuring the Upstate's one and only Gary Player Signature golf course. Situated along the South Tyger River, this course is known for its lush greens, challenging pin placements and gorgeous mountain views. You may want to bring along a light jacket for a late afternoon or early evening round on this Upstate course.
If you feel like going out on the town for dinner after round two of golf, freshen up in the clubhouse at River Falls and scoot over to Renato In Centro in historic downtown Spartanburg. Specializing in old-world Italian cuisine, this upscale, family-owned restaurant is well-known in the Spartanburg area for being one of the best culinary destinations in town.
And, if you feel like exploring the Hub City's charming downtown square a little longer, check in at the Spartanburg Marriott just a few blocks away and extend your golf getaway an extra night.